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How to Select the Right Physical Therapy College Near Sitka Alaska

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with woman holding exercise ballReceiving a physical therapy degree near Sitka AK is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career in the medical care field. Physical therapists (PT) help patients who have been disabled due to injury or illness regain function and mobility. But before they may legally practice and provide treatment for the rehabilitation of patients, they need to receive the appropriate education and training. A PT must additionally become licensed in every state, many requiring that the licensee hold a physical therapy degree from an accredited college. So before enrolling in a physical therapy school, it's important to evaluate those you are looking at to make sure they will provide a superior education and satisfy your state's licensing requirements. What you do not want to do is enroll in a college just because it happens to be the closest to your residence or it has the lowest tuition. There are other important qualifications that need to be evaluated along with location and cost. But before we talk about what those qualifications are and what questions you should ask, we'll cover what a physical therapist does and what the educational options are.

What Do Physical Therapists Do?

Sitka Alaska physical therapist helping woman to walk

Physical therapists work in diverse settings, including Sitka AK hospitals, health clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and health clubs. What the facilities all share in common is that they are equipped for the diagnosis and rehabilitation treatment of patients. As previously touched on, physical therapists help individuals that are struggling with a lack of mobility and often pain due to illness or injury. After diagnosing a patient, they develop a course of treatment to deal with the mobility issues and lessen or eliminate any pain. They also strive to prevent any progression of the disability. Though the causes of disability necessitating physical therapy are abundant, they include:

  • Arthritis or Osteoporosis
  • Car or motor cycle accidents
  • Strokes
  • Heart attacks
  • Sports injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Hip Replacement
  • Sciatica
  • Cerebral Palsy

Licensed physical therapists work in close association with other Sitka AK health professionals, including chiropractors, physicians, registered nurses and dentists. They can also supervise one or more physical therapy assistants who work for them in diagnosing and treating their patients. One thing to bear in mind for anyone considering getting into the physical therapy field, it is quite physically demanding. Physical therapists routinely lift heavy equipment as well as patients, and kneel, crouch and stand for long periods of time on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Degrees Available

Sitka Alaska physical therapist working with patient in pool

There are 3 physical therapy degrees offered for students to pursue at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Of these alternatives, the single degree that is available that qualifies the graduate to practice as a physical therapist is the doctorate. Undergraduate degrees concentrate on either preparing students to become a physical therapy assistant (PTA) or readying them to advance to the doctoral level. Following are short summaries of degree levels that are available to prospective students in the Sitka AK area:

  • Associate Degrees train students to practice as physical therapy assistants, or may be used as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify for enrollment. The degrees are typically offered by junior or community colleges, and take about two years to complete. Clinical training, which may be in the form of an internship is typically a component of the curriculum.
  • Bachelor's Degrees are designed as pre-physical therapist education to prepare candidates to advance to the doctoral level. Although they are not required to be eligible for the doctoral program, they are an essential preliminary step to practicing as a PT. As with the majority of bachelor's degrees, they generally require 4 years to complete and often include an internship program of a minimum of 500 hours.
  • Doctorate Degrees are a requirement if you want to become a practicing licensed physical therapist. The degree program must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). In addition to the bachelor's degree, the doctoral takes three years to complete, making the total investment of time seven years in most cases. Clinical or practical training is an essential element along with the substantial classroom and lab instruction. Therefor the fulfillment of an internship is mandated, not solely for graduation but in several states for licensing as well.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) has replaced the Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT), which has been eliminated and is no longer attainable in the USA. A number of licensed physical therapists holding a master's or in some cases a bachelor's degree were "grandfathered" in before the existing licensing requirement for a doctorate was implemented.

Physical Therapy Online Degrees

Sitka Alaska female student taking physical therapy courses onlineWhile not as prevalent as the more traditional options, there are some accredited online physical therapist programs offered, even more at the graduate level. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, internships and clinical lab work are combined with the online classes. This necessitates that the student live near the college campus or in proximity of a sponsored internship. However, the online part of the program may be accessed within the convenience and comfort of the student's Sitka AK residence. Online schools are not only partially more accessible, but in many instances more affordable. Tuition might be significantly less than similar on-campus options, and expenditures for commuting are reduced. And a number of the online schools are accredited by the CAPTE, ensuring a quality education. These advantages may make the online option the best choice for those students that are dedicated enough to learn at home.

What to Ask Physical Therapy Colleges

By now you most likely have come to decision concerning several of your preliminary questions, like the kind of physical therapy degree you intend to attain, where you prefer to attend classes, and how much you can afford to invest in your education. But considering there are so many PT schools within the Sitka AK area and across Alaska, you'll need to explore additional qualifications also so as to further narrow your list of college options. Moreover, you need to make certain that you select the college that is ideal for you. That's the reason we have collected a list of important questions that you need to ask the physical therapist colleges you are thinking about. Ask each of the potential schools these questions before making an ultimate selection.

Is the Physical Therapist College Accredited?  Find out if the programs you are looking at have received accreditation from a national or a regional agency. As previously stated, if you are pursuing a doctorate the program must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). If you select an online school, it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council. It's important that both the physical therapy school and program you enroll in are accredited, not simply the school. Additionally, verify that the accreditation is through a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Along with ensuring that you receive an excellent education, accreditation might be mandated for state licensing and even for getting student loans or financial aid.

What is the School's Ranking? In addition to accreditation, it's essential that the school and program you pick have excellent reputations within the physical therapy community. There are several ways you can look into a PT college's reputation, beginning with asking for references from employers that they place their graduates with. You can also search for online reviews and rating services and ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Call some Sitka AK physical therapy centers or other medical care facilities that you might be interested in working for and ask if they can offer any recommendations about your program options. It may also be a good idea to check with the Alaska Attorney General and school licensing authority to find out if any complaints have been submitted against the colleges.

What is the School's Job Placement Percentage? There are a couple of relevant statistics that you should find out about each of the physical therapy programs you are looking at. First is their graduation rate. A low rate might indicate that students left because of dissatisfaction with the program, the teachers, or both. Once the students have graduated, how many of them are being placed in jobs with the support of the school's job placement program, particularly in the Sitka AK area? If a college has a higher job placement rate, it's an indication that its reputation within the health care field is good or perhaps outstanding. It also verifies that the school has a large network of contacts to assist students obtain internships or jobs upon graduation.

Does the School Support Licensing Requirements? It's imperative that the school you select provides both exceptional training and a curriculum that satisfies the licensing criteria for Alaska or the state where you will be working. In every state a passing score is needed on the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in addition to a degree from an accredited physical therapy college. Although licensing requirements differ state by state for PTA and PT graduates, many states require a minimum number of clinical hours be completed as well as passing scores on additional tests.

Are Internships Provided? Find out if the physical therapy schools you are interested in have associations with Sitka AK clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a great way to obtain practical experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a requirement for the majority of PT programs and state licensing. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates form professional relationships in the Sitka healthcare community and help with job placement once licensed.

What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of person that likes to sit way in the rear of class or hide in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes permit more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the physical therapist colleges you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to talk with several of the students and instructors to get their perspectives regarding the physical therapist program as well.

Where is the College Located? For a number of students, the physical therapy school they pick will have to be within commuting distance of their Sitka AK residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges commonly charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.

Is Financial Assistance Provided? Most DPT schools supply some type of financial assistance to their prospective students. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department and see what kind of aid is obtainable. They at least should help in acquiring a student loan or any scholarships you might qualify for. Some physical therapist colleges provide scholarships, while others offer work programs. So before eliminating a school because the tuition is too expensive, find out what financial aid may be available.

Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to confirm that the physical therapist college you finally choose can provide the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Sitka AK area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, find out if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to carry. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you may miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Find Out More About Sitka Online Physical Therapy Programs

Choose the Right Sitka Physical Therapist School

Picking the right physical therapist school is a necessary initial decision you have to make to start a fulfilling career in the health care profession. As we have covered in this article, the DPT or PT degree program and school you pick should both have exceptional reputations and accreditation. However there are additional important questions that you need to ask regarding your school of choice also. As you start your search for a physical therapy college keep in mind that numerous factors will lead you to your ultimate decision. You might decide to visit different campuses to view their facilities and talk with current DPT students. While there, ask yourself this important question: will this college help me achieve my goal of becoming a practicing licensed physical therapist? By following our list of supplemental questions, you will have the ability to narrow down the options so you can make the ideal choice. And with the necessary training and education, you can achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist in Sitka Alaska.


 

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